Italy bans ChatGPT while Brussels watches closely

Briefly: Italy has become the first Western country to ban ChatGPT, an AI-powered chatbot that’s taken the internet by storm since its launch in November. The Italian privacy watchdog accused the chatbot of unlawfully using personal data to train its algorithm, and failing to have an age verification system.

At least, that’s what Rome is saying. But maybe Italian authorities were really just peeved by the chatbot’s declaration that it’s okay to put pineapple on pizza.

Governments aren’t the only ones getting nervous about the stunning progress in generative AI. Last week over 1000 tech leaders, including Twitter CEO Elon Musk, signed a letter calling for a six-month pause in AI development.

Intrigue’s take: ChatGPT’s owner (OpenAI) still has a few days to come up with solutions to Italy’s concerns, before the ban becomes permanent. But either way, the digital Rubicon has now been crossed.

Germany, France, and Ireland have already reached out to Italy’s Garante privacy agency seeking further info, potentially looking to follow Rome’s example. And Brussels, never one to be out-regulated, now smells a chance to sell its own proposed ‘AI Act’ to EU member states and the broader public.

But outright bans aren’t always the best way to solve a problem. Like Iran’s ban on mullets, China’s ban on reincarnation, and Turkmenistan’s ban on lip-synching, something tells us generative AI will continue unperturbed.

Also worth noting: